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My first experiences with all types of breeds of dogs started as an intern at my local Humane Society.  One of my jobs was to take pictures for the website of all the adoptable animals.  To say this was an adventure was an understatement.  Don’t get me wrong, it truly was the highlight of my week- a dream internship- getting to work one on one with all types of animals.  However, I did get my fair share of jumps, scratches, and licks as a result of the animal’s excitement.

As a kid growing up, I had a very laid back Aussie Mix but quickly learned not all dogs were like mine, especially in the shelter atmosphere. The Aussie dogs I meant at the internship were rambunctious and had a ton of energy always wanting to play, which was a little different from my dog. The bigger dogs were the hardest to get pictures of because all they wanted to do was give hugs.   And, I will admit I was uneasy about working with the pitt mixes, but after a few interactions I found out that they are sweet, gentle, curious and very friendly creatures.

After my internship, I began working in animal welfare for what is now the beginning of my fourth year.  I always thought I would adopt Aussies and continue the family tradition.  But, all the different bully breeds I worked with made me a convert.  I became a mother to Brawny, a 4 year old, pitt mix from the Lexington Humane Society.  He went through their obedience dog training program with an inmate and is a big fat baby who knows almost every trick in the book. Bman is very laid back, his favorite hobbies include sleeping and finding a nice spot to chew on his many bones. My other “child” is Red Bull a 2-year-old pitt, who is quite the opposite, but still a little spoiled rotten mess with a lot of spunk. His personality is full of energy and excitement and he is a momma’s boy all the way, expecting to get everything he wants.  Besides these two gems, I fostered over 15 different bully breed pups until they were ready for adoption. Fostering is a great way to enjoy puppies and then pass a well behaved doggie citizen on to another family. Spreading the joy of bully breeds!

I have had many different experiences with all kinds of pitt mixes and feel I have some insight on their nature and personality.  Of course, there are some that can be vicious, aggressive, dominant, harmful or mean, but there is always a reason behind this behavior.  And what many people do not realize is that every breed of dog can have the exact same characteristics if threatened or taught this behavior.  Many times it is because of experiences the animal has had or how it was raised.  

The most superior quality each and every pitt possesses is loyalty.  They will do anything for approval of their owner.  If an owner teaches them to fight and protect an area they will try their hardest to do just that. While on the other hand, if the owner is responsible and caring and teaches the dog to be social, you can have a very well behaved canine.

Sadly, these animals are extremely misunderstood and misrepresented in the media.  Many people do not take the time to understand or work with the breed or give the dogs a chance. Often times people believe all the hype and never really try to break down those barriers that are creating the negative stereotypes. With a little information and some positive pittie experiences, more people would get to enjoy the love and companionship that pitts have to offer.

I wanted to share some negative myths that I have seen crushed throughout my time with this loyal and fun breed.

  • Pitt bulls should not be around kids because they can snap and attack at any minute.

As with any dog, you should go through a behavior assessment before you let them around any other animal or person, no matter the age.  My pitts love kids because they are their size.  They look at them like I cannot wait to play with that!  But, they are very gentle.  My cousin can pull, bite, and lay all over them and all they care about is her attention.  At MAS we had Cookie, a 2 year old female pitt (pictured below) who absolutely loved kids!  She is now in her forever home, but we have so many still searching for their home that make great family pets.  It is a fact that pitt bulls used to be nanny dogs back in the 1900’s.  They not only guarded the house, but also watched over children.

  • Pitt bulls have deadly jaws and will not let go once they bite.

It is proven that pitt bulls do not posses a locking quality and have almost identical jaw structure comparable to any other breed.  Pitt bulls do have rare and unique characteristics with their mouths compared to any other dog.  And because of this, they can show more emotion that any animal I have ever witnessed.  Metro Animal Services’ currently has a female named Smiley Kathi that can seriously smile – she can make anyone’s day.

  • Pitt bulls do not get along with other animals and will attack when put together.

Once again many animals do not get along with each other, but this is not a common characteristic of any pitt bull.  They actually enjoy the company of other animals.  My 2 sleep together in a small loveseat in which I have no idea how they can fit.  Put a dog with a pitt and most often, they will quickly become close friends.  Macy and Sookie are 2 of the friendliest and happiest pitt mixes at Animal House.  They are both ready for adoption and have never met a stranger.  If you visit, you will most likely see them kissing, like in the picture below.

Below are many other great sites that discuss myths, facts, and further information about pitt bulls.

I challenge you to break the stereotype and give these loveable bullies a chance.  I know my life would be completely different if I didn’t.

Please don’t push this breed aside when considering adoption.  Metro Animal Services has many pitts and pitt mixes looking for that person or family to call their own.  From February 14th until February 29th we will be having a special: Love Don’t Cost a Thing!  All pitts and pitt mixes with be free ($9 license) with an approved application.  Come to Animal House Adoption Center to give these companions a fighting chance.

I encourage you to share any comments or stories of any experiences you have had with a bully breed!

Education is the path to change.

Alisa Oerther, Community Engagement Coordinator at Louisville Metro Animal Services